Tulsi or tulasi or tulsa or holy basil is an aromatic plant of Indian subcontinent belonging to the genus Ocimum. It bears a sweet and lasting flavor. The plant bears phyllotaxic green leaves (Ram tulsi) or purple leaves (Shyama tulsi). It has been cultivated for both religious and medicinal purposes. The sacred plant can be found easily in any home in India. People worship the plant in the morning and evening at large and believe that it is a symbol of peace and prosperity. The plant has also been used for medications since ages. Our Ayurvedas always recommend including leaf of tulsi daily to stay immune against infections.
The nutritional profile of basil includes proteins, dietary fiber, electrolytes (sodium and potassium), minerals (calcium, iron, copper, manganese and zinc), phytonutrients (lutein-zeaxanthin, carotene-b and crypto-xanthin-b) and vitamins ( A, B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B9, C, E and K).
Health benefits of holy basil are discussed below.
1. Treats fever and common cold – the leaves of basil are very useful to cure common problems cold, cough and fever. Decoction prepared from the leaves upon boiling in water is a great medicine and preventive measure against dengue and malaria fever. Chewing basil leaves will help in relieving pain during whooping cough and flu. For a sore throat, boil basil leaves in water until reduced to half and drink. The same water will help in relieving from pain upon gargling.
2. Antiviral – basil leaves are a great source to prevent from any viral infection. They are a great germicidal and disinfectants too.
3. Treats respiratory problems – leaves decoction with honey and ginger is the best and effective remedy for bronchitis, influenza and asthma. To relieve influenza, prepare a decoction of leaves with table salt and cloves. Basil is a great expectorant and is commonly used to prepare cough syrups.
4. Powerful healing – because of its amazing antiseptic properties, basil leaves are used for curing ulcers, wounds and cuts. For an immediate relief, mix coconut oil in basil leaves juice and apply on the wounds and cuts. They are also helpful in alleviating the pain in measles, small pox and chicken pox. When an insect bites, chew a basil leaf or apply its juice on the bitten or stung area.
5. Breaks kidney and gallstones – basil leaves possess strengthening properties, which help in removal of kidney stones through urinary tract. Consuming the juice obtained from leaves will do the job. Since the main reason of stone formation in kidneys and gall bladder is increase in uric acid levels, basil leaves juice will help in this too.
6. Fights stomach problems – common stomach problems include constipation, acidity and flatulence. These reasons are responsible to make you vomit, feel low and there is a loss in appetite. All these can be overcome by having basil leaves juice. Basil supports our digestive system and makes us feel less bloated with a feel of comfort.
7. Fights acne – basil leaves contain eugenol, an antipyretic compound, which kills bacteria and related infections. They help in curing skin irritations on topical application of its juice. Internally, consuming basil leaves juice or chewing a leaf will relieve from the problem. Basil leaves are a natural acne treatment and various research studies support the same. For better absorption and effects, it can be used with coconut oil, which makes it more viscous and makes absorption on the skin easier.
8. Combats cancer – regular consumption of basil leaves helps in building up a strong immune system, which is less susceptible to develop cancerous cells. They contain antioxidants, which prevent from damage caused by radiation exposure, fights against free radicals and inhibits oxidative damage. The pytochemicals in the basil helps in preventing various cancers such as liver cancer, chemical-induced lung cancer, oral cancer, skin cancer, etc. by altering the gene expression, inhibiting metastasis, inducing cancer cell death and preventing blood vessels growth, all of which contribute to cancer spread from one organ to another.
9. Cares for your smile – basil acts as a mouth freshener, as it is able to kill germs and bacteria residing in your mouth. It keeps bad breath, plaque, cavities and tartar at bay. It can cure mouth ulcers too. Chewing tobacco leads to the development of oral cancer cells. This growth can be inhibited by using basil essential oil to your toothpaste and drinking one cup of basil tea every day.
10. Supports eyes – basil juice is an eye wonder. It relieves from night blindness, conjunctivitis, sore eyes, boils and other eye-related problems. It also helps in reducing stress and soothing eyes. To prevent eyes from bacterial and fungal infections, wash eyes with basil-soaked water.
11. Helps to quit smoking – chewing few basil leaves daily will help in getting rid of smoking habit. The leaves will provide your throat a cooling effect and will repair the damage caused by smoking for years with its antioxidant power.
12. Relieves headaches – dried basil leaves added to a large vessel of water and steamed for 10 mins can help in getting rid of headache. In addition, mixing dried basil leaves powder to sandalwood paste and applying on the forehead will provide a cooling effect and will help in getting rid of heat and headache.
13. Cares for hair – basil leaves help in prevention from hair loss, itchiness and dry scalp, treating dandruff, strengthening hairs, treating grey hair and rejuvenating hair follicles. To your oil, mix basil leaves paste. Apply this oil mix onto the scalp for cooling effect and getting rid of itchiness. This will also improve the blood circulation in the scalp. Applying basil leaves paste onto the scalp helps in dandruff removal and keeps the roots clean. Drinking basil juice once a week helps in keeping your scalp hydrated and healthy. For grey hairs and hair fall, soak amla powder and powder of dried basil leaves in water overnight. Strain the next morning and wash hair with the concoction.
All these and other numerous unknown benefits of basil have made it to be called “the queen of herbs” worthy. Not only leaves, but also its flower, stem, root, seeds and whole plant is helpful in curing various infections and diseases from sore throat, bronchitis, dysentery, painful eye and chronic fever to insect bites. It is able to deal and treat chemical, physical, psychological and metabolic stress with unique combinations of pharmacological actions, according to our Ayurvedas.
Our Ayurveda is the world’s oldest system of medicine and is a holistic approach towards disease and health, because of which our Ayurveda practitioners suggest to take at least a cup of basil tea every day. When are you taking yours?